Today would be your last day on this earth.
How would you be remembered?
Would those closest to you feel forced to come up with some polite words about you so as not to be rude, or would they readily recount specific ways that you had endeared yourself to them, loved them, and thus became someone very special in their lives?
What would they say they saw in you?
Would they find sincerity? A sense of purpose? A deep, passionate commitment to what's right, to truth? A person of honor? A person with a sense of compassion, and a willingness to forgive?
One of the more chilling stories I can remember was told by a friend of mine whose wife was a nurse who had been hired to provide round-the-clock care for a dying man who had great wealth. After several weeks on the job she noticed that none of the man's children ever came to see him, and he had many.
Finally, one day she decided to call one of the children by phone, both to report to them their father's quickly deteriorating condition, and to find out if perhaps they would be coming to see him for what in all likelihood would be for the very last time.
"No," he said, "We won't be around. Just call when he's gone. You see, Ma'am, my father has been a bastard all his life. He made life so horrible for us that once we got out of the house, we wanted nothing more to do with him. He made his bed, now let him lay in it,"
I remember thinking at the time, "Wow, I hope the people closest to me don't think of me that way when I am at the end of life, or when I am gone. That would be one of the most horrible things I can imagine."
As I have told you before, I can be quite bull-headed, stubborn, and head-strong, giving a verbal shellacking to people at the drop of a hat. I still have that trait although I can say that it is not as bad as it used to be, especially not for those who are closest to me.
I don't want people thinking of me as 'a bastard' when I'm gone. I can only hope that along the way, through some small expression of kindness, or through my willingness to listen to them, or just simply being present with them in the dark times of life, people around me have come to treasure at least a few of my traits that are not so bad.
But it IS something to think about.
What kind of legacy are we leaving behind for those who will live on without us?
As the late, great Roger Bennett, former pianist for the Cathedrals, asked in one of his wonderful songs, "When the world looks at me, do they see Jesus?"